Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Let's Trade Michael and Delmon Young Because I Don't Like Them Very Much

Despite the rebuild-at-all-costs strategy supported, implicitly or explicitly, by many Phillies fans as the 2013 trade deadline approaches, I have a great deal of ambivalence about the idea of trading Chase Utley or Cliff Lee. If you can get back an absolutely dynamite set of prospects for either, I guess you have to, but as many have reminded, we traded Cliff for young'ns once before and it didn't work out so well, and if it's only a similar package of B-minus/C-plus-level talent that either will return, I don't see the point in jettisoning them just for the sake of doing so. I'd rather enjoy their remaining days as Phillies, even on a losing team, then ship them out just because "there's no point in keeping them around." I like both players immensely, and without there being much reward to losing them, that's point enough for me. (Besides, as Jonah Keri recently pointed out, the team's impending new TV deal means they have motivation to try to stay good and likeable short-term, which trading those guys would make much more difficult.)

I feel a similar, though less extreme level of conflict when it comes to many of the other Fightins rumored to be on the trading block. Jimmy Rollins certainly is getting paid a lot to do not all that much for the team at the moment, but will a diminished shortstop in his mid-30s fetch anything in return worth even the sentimental loss of the longest-tenured Phillie in decades? Same for Carlos Ruiz, currently mired in his worst offensive stretch of his Philly career (saying something, considering his first few seasons) and unlikely to be valued more by any other team than by the Phils, where he still has some residual fan-favorite status and arguably deserves the chance to hit his way out of this megaslump before entering free agency. And Jonathan Paplebon...well, he's also paid way too much, but having a closer that only sucks sporadically (and occasionally says amusingly dumb, obnoxious things) is a nice luxury. I'd rather have him than not have him, if there's not all that much to be gained by not having him.

But there's two players on this team about whom I feel no such ambivalence: Michael and Delmon Young. I would gladly ship both the Young Brothers out tomorrow for a 28-year-old Double A reliever and a Bag of Peanuts to be Named Later, solely to avoid my having to watch them play another game in the Red and White.

To be fair, both Michael and Delmon Young have come basically as advertised. Michael Young is a Professional Hitter on the wrong side of 35 who can't defend a lick and would probably come in third in a 100-yard dash against Pat Burrell and one of the "Thriller" zombies. Delmon Young is a prolific (though not old or respected enough to be Professional) hitter who doesn't walk, certainly doesn't run and gives up at least one hit in the field for every two he gets at the plate. These are not surprising things; we knew pretty much all of them when the two were acquired in the off-season.

What we didn't know--what I didn't quite know, anyway--was how unwatchable the two would be as everyday players. The reflexive wincing that would soon come with every grounder they hit, knowing there's not a place deep enough on God's green infield for them to have a chance of legging it out. With every time a sharp grounder was hit in Michael's direction, or a sinking liner in Delmon's, knowing that they were too slow and poorly coordinated to dive for them, but that they'd probably try anyway. With every time they came up with men on and one out, and you just hoped they'd strike or fly out rather than hitting into a double play. Lotta wincing, all told.

It might sound unfair to harp on both players' lack of athleticism and poor defensive instincts when speed and defense was never considered a strength of either, and both players might not be so terrible as DHs in the American League, where they probably belong. But it's not like either is exactly providing Miguel Cabrera production at the plate to make up for it--their slash lines are almost identically mediocre, Michael hitting .277/.342/.402 and Delmon hitting .266/.312/.402. Michael's decent OBP--his .342 is somehow a team-high--means he's at least a net positive on offense, but Baseball-Reference has his defense being such a negative that he's still a sub-replacement player on the whole. (Delmon only breaks even on offense, and defense...yeah.)

Bottom line: Not only are these players miserable to watch, they're arguably actively hurting this team's chances to win games, thus making their dismissal an obvious priority for this trade deadline. Could we get much for either? Probably not. Could we find a team at least willing to take one of them off our hands? It's not impossible. Some American League team looking for offensive depth could probably make use of one or both Youngs, particularly Michael, whose sort of Veteran Presence is always desired for a Veteran Playoff Push. (Supposedly M. Young gives great Clubhouse, though apparently such camaraderie building has little effect on a sub-.500 team such as the Phils.) Delmon might be a little tougher sell, but hey, he was ALCS MVP just last year. Maybe we can convince some contending team that once the calendar turns October, Delmon's clutchiness will invariably shine through. Worth a shot, anyway.

Chase and Cliff will likely pass through the trade deadline still wearing Phillies uniforms. I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy, Chooch and Paps did so as well. And as disappointing as it may be to some or all if we pass up an obvious chance to jump-start the rebuilding process in the name of playing out the crappiest Phillies season in over a decade and trying again next year, if we could somehow get to Thursday without anyone named Young on our roster, I'd have to consider it at least a partial success. I'll never be so happy to see Michael Martinez and Steve Sudsorf written into our everyday lineup.

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.